A fad weight loss diet is any diet that promises fast weight loss without a scientific basis. These diets often eliminate entire food groups and as a result do not provide a wide range of important nutrients.
Fad diets may provide short-term results but they are difficult to sustain and can cause serious health problems. The best approach to weight loss is to follow a long-term, healthy and balanced eating plan and to exercise regularly.
Weight loss and fad diets
Diets that encourage fast weight loss usually have little effect on body fat. The initial weight lost while on a fad diet is mostly water and lean muscle (which is generally not desirable).
When very little food is eaten, the body begins to break down muscle to meet energy (kilojoule) needs. Unfortunately, this occurs much more easily than the breakdown of fat stores.
Breaking down muscle leads to:
- a loss of water, creating the illusion of rapid weight loss
- a reduced metabolic rate, so when the diet is stopped it is much easier for the body to gain fat than it was prior to going on the diet.
As a result, over time, people can diet themselves fatter.
Fad diets often encourage a short-term change in eating behaviour, rather than encouraging changes that can be sustained in the long-term. It is essential that any diet meets nutritional needs, is practical and suitable for individual lifestyles.
Regular physical activity is also important for those wanting to lose weight.